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Bittersweet day for Feaster

by Mike Board / Calgary Flames

Tuesday was a bittersweet day for Jay Feaster.

The sweet: Feaster was back in a general manager's seat for the first time in three years.

The bitter: Feaster was back in the seat at the expense of Darryl Sutter, the very man who brought Feaster back into hockey management earlier this year.

"This is a difficult time because so many of us in this organization owe so much to Darryl," said Feaster in his opening statement to media after being announced as the Calgary Flames acting general manager, replacing Darryl Sutter.

Feaster knows only too well that hockey is about being in the right place at the right time. He also knows that hockey is a results-oriented business.

He was general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning from 2002-2008, winning a Stanley Cup against the Calgary Flames in 2004. Let go in 2008, he worked in the media. Until Sutter called and asked him for a meeting in Philadelphia to discuss becoming the assistant general manager of the Flames.

"I told him at that meeting that I wanted to manage again in the NHL but 'I am not going to Calgary because I want your job. I am not looking to be the general manager at your expense'," Feaster explained.

Sutter had no qualms about hiring someone who could -- and ultimately did -- fill his position.

"Darryl was comfortable bringing me on board despite the fact that I had managed before," said Feaster. "There are a lot of my colleagues around the National Hockey League that wouldn't have done that. I owe him everything because I am back in the game."

Back in the game, indeed. Feaster is now charged with analyzing the Flames current situation and developing a short, medium and long-term plan. "It is my intent to put together a comprehensive plan," said Feaster.

That plan does not include the scorching of the team.

"I believe in our marquee players. I think our marquee players are among the best in the National Hockey League," said Feaster.

With that Jarome Iginla, Miikka Kiprusoff, Robyn Regehr, Mark Giordano and others can breathe a sigh of relief -- they are not about to be traded in the immediate future.

"I am committed to this coaching group," added Feaster. "I am a big believer in working with the coach. From a hockey perspective, Brent Sutter is going to have a very large voice in my administration."

The plan does include more fun.

Feaster explained to media that some changes might happen in the post-game procedures: He wants players and management to enjoy wins and have a pumped up dressing room.

"I want the music cranked in there after a win. By the time I get down there, because you guys are in there, I never get to enjoy it," smiled Feaster. "We might have to find a different place for you to go after games."

Coincidentally, as media entered the room after the announcement, Peter Gabriel was rocking in the background.

"In terms of fun, it has to be fun," said Feaster. "It's a demanding business and the one thing that is more fun than anything is winning," said Feaster.

In many ways Feaster is very different from Darryl Sutter. Feaster never played or coached the game. He is a well-educated lawyer. He is at ease with media.

Flames president and CEO Ken King was quick to point out that while there are differences, both men have strong leadership qualities.

"I think Jay brings to the table a number of qualities that are different that Darryl's," said King. "I think Jay is going to bring a dimension and a freshness. I think he brings a different perspective, a different philosophy, a different approach. It's not better, it's different."

King, who described the day personally as "horrible" referred to sports franchises being in "a perpetual state of rebuilding" and that the move was made with that in mind.

"It's an ever and ongoing process," said King. "We've built a nucleus. We've built a core. To move forward we have to make changes. You look at the short term, the near term but you better plan for the long term."

Making a change now gives Feaster time to study the situation and make recommendations on moving forward. There are a full six months before the next NHL draft. The trade deadline comes on February 28. Rest assured that Feaster has those dates circled in a calendar. Big decisions will be made in both situations.

Yes, there is work to be done. Feaster will be rolling up his sleeves, holding meetings and looking for the Flames to make the playoffs. At least in the short term.

"I want to make the playoffs this year. But I don't want to make the playoffs and go out in the first round. Once you have won a Stanley Cup, that is all that matters," said Feaster.



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